By Leia Weathington, on Dec 5, 2019

Autism Interview Tips for Job Seekers

So you were contacted to interview for the position you want!  Interviewing for a new career is generally stressful but for members of the neurodiverse community, that stress can be overwhelming.

But it doesn’t need to be! With some planning, an understanding of what you are entitled to under the law, and a clear idea of the type of job you’ve applied for, you can secure a satisfying job that suits your needs. Here are five autism interview tips to help give you some extra confidence to nail it.

Researching for Your Interview

Before the interview itself, sit down and go through all of the information about the job you are applying for. For example, are there pictures of the location? Does it seem like there would be a workspace for you that would accommodate any sensory issues? When going back through the job posting, can you spot any requirements that may be unrealistic for you? Will you be communicating primarily over the phone or email?

You know yourself best and have the most understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. By taking the time to analyze as much as possible about a prospective workplace before even entering the interview you can gain a better understanding of what you may want to request from the employer.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time & Space

One of the nice things about an interview is that it has a set date and time. If the offered date leaves you with little time to prepare to your satisfaction you can always request a different one. For example if you are at your best in the morning, request a meeting before noon.

Get a good night’s sleep and set a couple of alarms for yourself. Pick your clothes the night before and have them laid out. If taking public transit to the interview site, plan the route on your phone a few hours ahead so that it’s ready to go before leaving your home.  Take some time for an activity you find soothing while you’re at it. The more you can reduce your stress beforehand the more calm and in control of the situation you will be when meeting with your potential employer.

Disclosure

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guarantees the fair employment of people on the spectrum, but disclosing autism during an interview can be intimidating. Disclosure is the sharing of specific personal information as it relates to your potential ability to perform in the role. This can include things such as medical information from your healthcare provider to help substantiate your need for specific accommodations.

Be honest if there are accommodations you need to be successful at your job. If noise is an invasive barrier when you are working request that you be able to use noise canceling headphones. If you suffer from social anxiety, request if it’s possible to communicate primarily through email or an office chat service.  Think of the act of disclosure strategically. You are selling yourself to the employer and these accommodations can be phrased to their benefit.

Do keep in mind that disclosure is necessary only if accommodations are required. You are never under any obligation to share your personal medical information with an employer if you don’t find it’s warranted. There may be some benefit to simply laying out the facts to your interview before it happens but this depends on the individual. Ultimately if and how much information shared is your choice.

Your Neurodiversity is an Asset

You are unique in the way you process the world around you. Perhaps you have a remarkable visual memory or are able to sustain your focus on small, detail oriented tasks for hours with unwavering accuracy. You, yourself are an asset to a company if provided the tools to thrive.

It may also be helpful to make some notecards to refer to if you need to streamline your thoughts during the interview. Jot down your strengths as they relate to the position or any observations about how you would best perform your duties.

Always Send a Thank You & Don’t be Afraid to Follow Up

Basic formality can go a long way in the interview process. After completing your interview, send a brief email to your interviewer thanking them for their time and reaffirm your desire to work for their company. If, after a few days, you haven’t heard back from the company, send along another email restating your interest in the position. Keep that follow up email to just the one though, otherwise it can become burdensome to your interviewer.

Deep breath, you’ve got this!

Opinions expressed by Daivergent contributors are their own.